When my husband of 18 years was unfaithful and I found out he’d been lying to me for as long as a year, it was pretty darned easy to blame the failure of my marriage on his bad behavior. And it’s even easier when all the outsiders took my side and joined the “What-an-asshole!” team that I had formed. Initially it felt really good to farm out all the blame onto him. Until I realized that if that were true, then I was the ultimate victim. And let me tell you, I’m a lot of things but “victim” isn’t one of them.
It took about six months to work through the grief process and really get down to some self-examination and I had read that I “should” try to identify my role in our divorce. So I started journaling and thinking and holy crap! I had a major ah ha!!
See, when I got married, I was an insecure, 23 year old, adult child of abuse looking for someone to rescue me. And he did. He told me what to do. He mirrored the unpredictable mood swings that I was accustomed to in my childhood so that actually felt very comfortable. He was a huge emotional mystery to me that let me fully exercise every codependent bone in my body! How convenient!
Then I started to grow up. I had 3 children. I matured. I climbed the corporate ladder and built confidence. And I worked on myself and started to heal my old wounds. I changed. I changed a lot! And guess what – he didn’t! Is that his fault? Of course not!
So after years of growth and healing, I became far more independent, self-sufficient and no longer needed his approval to validate my self-worth. I still thought I loved him, but not in the same way. The problem was his love language was being needed! When I no longer “needed” him, he felt abandoned and found someone else that did.
OMG! My divorce was way more MY FAULT! Don’t get me wrong, nothing makes his infidelity ok – finish one thing before you start another – but I understand now that I was the one who changed the balance of our relationship. I outgrew him. I was ready to rise to a new level – and he wasn’t.
So you know what? It’s ok. We needed to both move on. I remarried the perfect man to encourage my growth and be the perfect partner for me and he married the woman he cheated with. Maybe they’re happy, maybe they’re not. Doesn’t really matter to me. It’s his life to live now.
Realizing my role somehow freed me from resentment and anger towards him. It allowed me to forgive him and even move into a place of empathy for how abandoned he must’ve felt.
Life is pretty darned perfect and I now embrace the belief that everything truly does happen for a reason and I just need to open to possibilities. It’s a good place to be.
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